Education

The Art of Winning Scholarships

I think about when I first went to college and the future prospect of all that expense!  My parents were getting divorced, my future was uncertain, and definitely financially managing college was overwhelming and not really on anyone’s radar.  I really had to come up with a plan.

Fortunately, as far as academics and athletics go – I was a good student.  And I was very fortunate to have guidance counselors who really helped me navigate the process of scholarships and grant applications.  But not everyone has that type of support and assistance.

Now, I have five kids – three of which are grown and moving on with their families.  Two are still home, one of which will most likely go to college.  What will college cost by the time she is ready?  How will we manage it all?    Not to mention we have grandchildren who at this point it looks unlikely that college will be paid for by their parents.  So what’s the plan…?

The Plan

Scholarships and more scholarships.  That may sound easier than it is but it is absolutely possible if you dedicate yourself to making it happen.  Nowadays with the internet to apply and do research – you can make anything happen.  First you need access to a computer; Second you need time.

Places to Look for Scholarships

  • College Websites – many colleges have a section of their websites or even Facebook pages devoted specifically to scholarships and grants.
  • High School Counselors and Advisors – these were a great resource “back in the day” and remain so even to this day.  Make your life easier – utilize what they have to offer.
  • Internet – basic internet searches.  What do you want to go to school for?  What hobbies do you have? Are you a member of any particular group?  Look up every niche you can think you may qualify for.  A good place to start is the Dr. Jan McBarron Scholarship.
  • Social Media – oh yeah – search for tags such as #Scholarship #Grants and any other applicable hashtag you can think of.
  • Local Businesses – whether you live in a large urban setting or a small rural area you may be able to find scholarship opportunities with local businesses.
  • Banks – most banks have scholarship opportunities but they even may be aware of opportunities.

Goal

So what is your goal?  Is it to get $15,000 a year in scholarships?  Are you looking to cover the cost of tuition and housing?  If you goal is $500 you may not need to work too hard for too long.  If you goal is to fund everything in full with scholarships and grants then you will need to devote a lot of time, organization, and patience to the process.

Organization

If you goal is a large number of scholarships then you need to be organized.  Work on a calendar with specific tasks on a daily basis.  Track everything you do – how many and which applications you have filled out; how many and which you have received back; accepted; rejected; followed up on and all the dates applicable.  Keep a file of all essays you have submitted and what they were in response to.  Writing a high quality essay is critical – you need to get noticed.  Personally, I prefer to keep track of activities like this in spreadsheets but you can use whatever method you are comfortable with – just keep track of it all.

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